At its 99th annual state convention held in Grand Island December 7-8, the Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) passed a Special Order of Business resolution about the Keystone XL pipeline. Members from all over the state of Nebraska gathered and discussed policy language and eventually approved a statement outlining NeFU’s position on KXL.
This is a clear sign that agriculture producers are not backing down from their stance in wanting to protect the Ogallala aquifer from damage that could seriously affect Nebraska’s agriculture economy. Farmers and ranchers in small towns are not willing to risk their communities’ health and safety, their traditional livelihoods, and their permanent jobs producing food in return for a few temporary jobs and even fewer permanent Nebraska jobs.
The language passed is as follows:
‘WHEREAS, diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” also known as “tarsands” or “oilsands” crude is not recognized by Congress or the Internal Revenue Service as “crude oil,” thereby relieving pipeline companies such as TransCanada from paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is utilized to pay for damages and clean-up costs in the event of pipeline leaks and spills;
WHEREAS, TransCanada has never released an ingredients list of the chemical components of diluted bitumen to Nebraska emergency responders;
WHEREAS, major oil pipeline companies such as TransCanada are not bound by Nebraska law to pay economic damages to landowners in the event of pipeline leaks and spills;
WHEREAS, current Nebraska law grants foreign oil pipeline companies such as TransCanada the privilege of eminent domain even if a federal permit has not been issued for the project;
WHEREAS, the legislature’s taking of pipeline siting and routing power from the Nebraska Public Service Commission and granting it to the Governor is likely unconstitutional, thereby rendering illegitimate the process by which the currently proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline is being reviewed;
WHEREAS, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s review has failed to accomplish its objective of keeping the pipeline away from areas of sandy soils high water tables;
WHEREAS, the NDEQ review has failed to accomplish its objective of keeping the pipeline from crossing the Ogallala aquifer;
WHEREAS, the NDEQ review process and the Draft Report itself has not been transparent or accessible to many Nebraska citizens,
WHEREAS, HDR, the firm conducting the NDEQ review, has a clear conflict of interest in that matter due to previous contracting with TransCanada;
WHEREAS, Governor Dave Heineman has publicly called for denial of the permit for the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline if the pipeline route crosses the Ogallala aquifer;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MEMBERS OF THE NEBRASKA FARMERS UNION call on Governor Heineman to reject the review done by the NDEQ and restore the pipeline routing and siting process back to the Public Service Commision where it belongs;
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge the State Department to conduct its own Environmental Review of Nebraska Reroute of the Keystone XL as part of its Environmental Impact Statement, and that the EIS include an assessment of the pipeline’s life-cycle impacts on climate change;
FURTHER, we urge the Nebraska Legislature to repeal 2012’s LB1161, to eliminate eminent domain loopholes that allow oil pipeline companies to use eminent domain, and to require that all ingredients and chemical components of diluted bitumen must be released to Nebraska emergency responders and other appropriate agencies.
IN ADDITION, we call on President Obama to deny the permit for the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline due to the above mentioned conditions. NeFU will not support the Keystone XL pipeline unless all of the above mentioned conditions are resolved.’
More information about the Nebraska Farmers Union–including their new Farm to Fitness project–can be found on their website, www.nebraskafarmersunion.org.